Visit to Peru, a team that Messi never scored a goal for and has not won since 2004. The start of 2021 will be against Uruguay and Brazil.
Finishing in the best way a year that nobody had in the plans is the mission for the Argentine team. And it will not be easy against an opponent who urgently needs to start collecting points after a start to the knockout stages that was not expected.
Argentina arrived in a city that lives a tense calm. The social demonstrations and the claims to political failure occurred in the last hours a few meters from the National Stadium of Lima where tonight the Tigre Gareca team receives Lionel Scaloni’s team.
This Tuesday Peru woke up again without a president. Francisco Sagasti will assume his interim position in the afternoon, a couple of hours before the buses from Peru and Argentina arrive on the field.
The national team will finish tonight to measure in a fair dimension how much the point achieved last Thursday in the Bombonera against Paraguay is worth. If he wins in Lima, he will round off a very positive first section with four points out of six in this double day, which would be added to the two initial wins, against Ecuador and Bolivia. If you do not add three, the numerical balance, coupled with a performance that does not convince, will look different.
And at this point it is worth getting ahead since the next double round of Qualifiers will be in March 2021 and nothing less than against Uruguay and Brazil. There are several players who have already received a yellow and if they add another they will miss the next match: Nicolás Otamendi, Leandro Paredes, Nicolás Tagliafico, Lautaro Martínez, Nicolás Domínguez, Rodrigo De Paul and Gonzalo Montiel.
The record against the Peruvians shows a clear Argentine dominance, with 32 wins, 14 draws and just five losses. The National Team did not lose any of its last 15 matches against Peru by Qualifiers (9 wins and 6 draws); the last triumph of the Blanquirroja in Qualifying was in 1985, 1-0.
Although to find the last triumph in Lima you have to go back to September 4, 2004 when the team still led by Marcelo Bielsa won 3-1 with goals from Mauro Rosales, Fabricio Coloccini and Juan Pablo Sorín in the match that opened the eighth day of Qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
From there, they played three times in Peru and all were draws. One thing to keep in mind: Lionel Messi was never able to score a goal against Peru in the five games he played on his way to the World Cup.
For Gareca’s it will be a decisive clash. The start of the Qualifiers gave him just one point of the nine at stake: the tie in the debut 2-2 against Paraguay in Asunción. Later, they lost 4-2 at home to Brazil and came off 2-0 in Chile on Friday.
Scaloni’s team arrived in Lima on Monday afternoon on a charter flight and stayed at the Hilton Hotel in the Miraflores neighborhood of the Peruvian capital. This Tuesday, after breakfast, the footballers did light activation work in the gym. Scaloni has everything defined and confirmed it in the previous press conference: Tagliafico will return, Lo Celso will be the replacement for the injured Exequiel Palacios and Nicolás González will play in the attack front, his natural position.
The eleven: Franco Armani; Gonzalo Montiel, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Nicolás Otamendi, Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Lo Celso; Messi, Lautaro Martínez, González.
The team will wear alternative clothing, with a blue shirt and shorts. After playing the first three matches of the tournament with the blue and white, he returns to the jacket he used on the last FIFA date of 2019, in the friendlies against Brazil (1-0 in Riyadh) and Uruguay (2-2 in Tel Aviv).